Engineering and Power

Governments love big things. In fact the bigger the better as long as they work – Rome must have delighted in the Colosseum as the Egyptians got bigger and bigger Pyramids, and today we have love of ships, planes, domes and tunnels amongst other things.

We lose sight of the small things being more important. Just as if we vanished from the Earth tomorrow the planet would thrive but if ants were lost all life would end within months so the big things we build make a noise but comfortable houses underpin and make up the citizenry.

Wish we were as proud of building beautiful homes as we are of the big vanity projects sold to us a national pride.

China Just Keeps Winning

Empires have fallen throughout history. Looking at what we know and what we can dig up there are numerous reasons from invasion to degeneration. The latter is what we are witnessing today, although some people say ‘American Empire’ is not the right description as they have not gone around the world invading other countries and staying there. Others say it is still an Empire in all but name.

Degeneration comes in many guises but mainly you can pinpoint weak leaders and infighting. Rome lost its Republic to Octavian and the citizens from that moment onward were ‘managed’ – usually with free food and lots of games and all that corrupted Rome started with his later years. Judah fell as much from a bitter civil war as invasion from Rome. European empires fell because the countries became too poor not – lets be honest – because there was nothing left to take from the countries they rules.

The USA has lost its footing, its philosophy has been degraded by its very strength – commerce. The new Empire – China – is rising at its own pace. Its movies are as jingoistic as any that came out of Hollywood in the 1930s – 1950s. Its military grows, its citizens travel and invest and its history is becoming more known in the West.

Too Narrow A View

If the Mediterranean people in the days of the Roman Empire had known about dynamite they would never have been conquered by iron. If the Native Americans had learned to smelt metals in greater numbers they would have had a defence against muskets. Throughout history the description of every nation is a description of what the people did not know.

We teach it as a progression of what they knew. It looks better that way. It seems we are going upwards, we are learning more. And yet history teaches us clearly we are living in and through, our ignorance.

And this isn’t just about war. Had we known about the dangers in monoculture in crops the Irish Famine may never have happened, if we had had an early understanding about forests for clean air and water tables, many floods could have been avoided. Ignorance costs lives.

Look around your world. People are dying and suffering because we are ignorant. We have not learned enough about learning.

Strength

Where are the leaders who have a certain tyranny in their minds, which translates into  authoritarianism, but when they have served their agreed time go and live quiet lives, out of the limelight, and let others do the work? Where are the thinkers whom we all look up to and admire for the clarity of their thoughts? Are we so bereft of intellect that poorly spoken, intellectually challenged singers and entertainers are the whole of all we can quote, all we can follow, all we can talk about?

And yet the Circus Maximus in Rome, the first born of the fascist state in Europe, was built for the entertainment value in shedding blood, not for the polity? Did Pericles, to show Athenian power, did not build homes for the disabled but a temple. Do kings and queens not laud themselves in pomp as a spectacle?

Human beings experience each other and nature. That is what we do and what defines us in our dimensional existence. And that experience is a series of actions that builds up in our lives and rules us, becoming are our ethics. Wherever we are, whoever we are, we all have ethical considerations and yes, they are all different for all that religions try to make then uniform.

But you cannot impose the idea of self upon an individual. All you can do is assuage the selfishness within them, and it is that which gives us strength.

The selfless person is the strongest human being known. They are the people who give up power when it is right to do so and take up power only if it is right for them to do so and not because they can. They are the people who build for the weak and ridicule the selfish in their every action. They are the true kings and queens of us all.

The Myopia Of Privilege

I often wonder when exactly the perverse ability of human beings to ignore another person’s suffering or to become blind to other people entirely, begins or arises? How the Roman gentry walked around their cities oblivious to the drudgery of slaves all around them, buying and selling human beings without a  thought to anything but affordability. Did the Aztecs never think their way of hacking a man to pieces on a an altar was a vile way to kill and a vile way to appease a god? And did the British receding from their Empire never stop to wonder if putting monarchs in place as rulers over people was in all honesty their best idea?

I wonder today about this as Europe has been downgraded in its credit rating and faces the greatest financial stresses that it has faced in a generation, with America still trying to pull itself out of the straitjacket of International trade that threatens to pull it down; and our Government in the UK gives a man permission to suggest a yacht be bought for the Queen because she misses the old one.

I think human beings are only capable of seeing a few hundred of their peer group and everyone else is a myth, along with meritocracy and égalité.

Invitation To a Seance

Houdini famously took part in many seances after his mother died trying to find out if there was an ‘after life’ and being a showman he was able to expose every supposed mystic he met. It doesn’t stop people believing though, as many in this country regularly go to mass meetings where individual’s start telling them what messages they are receiving from the ‘other side’.

The Greeks and Romans had a whole show of their own, placing oracles in dark tunnels, strangely dressed in torch light and sometimes disjointed voices in the dark, a dark ruled by Hades or Pluto, one step away from the demons of Hell. And the oracles said much the same thing as they do today with lines that could be taken two ways and some indistinct probings that sometimes hit their mark with the credulous visitor.

That, of course, is the heart of the whole matter. The credulity of those who approach the mystics hoping, wanting, even praying that there is an afterwards, there is a place where consciousness continues to exist. Not of course doubting that decrepit bodies won’t be decrepit any more. Nor doubting that some great mystery ties it all together. That the blood stream of life and the pulse of death are all connected in some indefinable way in the dark of ignorance.

We would all do better to put aside all thought of living after death, and live while we may. It is after all, what life is for.

Nonsense

There are many assumptions that come to us in our education because a close reading is not given to the facts even as we know them. And let’s face it when the protagonists have been dead two thousand years it is hard to know what we know. For example would it interest you to know that eight hundred years ago the people who thought the Earth was flat would have been looked upon by educated people in the same way scientists and modern thinkers think of people desperately trying to deny evolution today.

The fact is that the proof (albeit luckily discovered) that the Earth was 24,000 miles round was found in 300 BCE.

Around about the same time or slightly earlier middle eastern thinkers had discovered the Moon controlled the cycle of time and come up with close to a 365 day year, though their leap year to keep up was every nineteen years. Whenever the Olympic circus begins I always sort of wish we have kept the nineteen year leap year.

Clocks were invented by the Chinese almost two thousand years ago. In fact to think that somehow people were standing still and not thinking much over the last ten thousand years is to misunderstand human  beings. People were experimenting long before experimental method was created. They were simply not being systematic. So the Romans knew what crude oil was they did not have a use for it.

In the past many people have hit upon accurate ideas they have just not been the ones listened to, their knowledge was lost or other countries rose and conquered theirs and disregarded their findings.

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